Lewis Hamilton's absence from the FIA Prize-Giving Gala on Thursday has already resulted in much discussion over whether he could face a penalty for not attending.
After losing the World Championship to Max Verstappen during the controversial final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton appeared for the podium ceremony but did not speak to the press. He has since kept a low profile, other than attending a ceremony at Windsor Castle to receive his knighthood on Wednesday.
It is stated in the rules that the top three finishers in the championship should be present at the Prize-Giving Gala, and the FIA have said that they will discuss the matter of Hamilton's no-show.
Meanwhile, newly-elected FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has hinted that, whilst the rules breach cannot be ignored, there may be leniency towards Hamilton, who he feels has been "broken" by what happened in Abu Dhabi.
What could the punishment be?
It is clear, though, that the issue will be discussed, and that the possibility of a penalty remains. But what kind of punishment could Hamilton receive?
This could take the form of a fine or a reprimand. However, a reprimand could potentially have consequences for Hamilton going into 2022.
The regulations state that a driver who receives three reprimands in a 12-month period, with two relating to actions on track, will be given a 10-place grid penalty.
It is stipulated under section 18.2 of the Sporting Regulations that:
"Any driver who receives three (3) reprimands in the same championship will, upon the imposition of the third, be given a ten (10) grid place penalty for the race at that event. If the third reprimand is imposed following an Incident during a race the ten (10) grid place penalty will be applied at the driver's next event. The ten (10) grid place penalty will only be imposed if at least two (2) of the reprimands were imposed for a driving infringement."
Hamilton currently has two reprimands for on-track incidents, with those being not adhering to track limits at the Mexican Grand Prix and holding up Nikita Mazepin during a practice session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. A third, then, could potentially result in a grid penalty.
When will a decision be made?
It could be some time before it is known if and when Hamilton will be penalised. RacingNews365.com understands that this could also depend on who looks into the case if the decision is taken to examine it further.
That could be the International Tribunal, or it may fall to the next panel of race stewards during a Formula 1 event. The decision of which path to take would ultimately be made by the FIA president.
Whilst Hamilton's absence from the post-race press conference in Abu Dhabi was not punished, it remains to be seen if this will be the case with his decision to miss the Prize-Giving Gala.
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